The deeper one digs into the planning, execution, and experience of the 2019 LCMS National Youth Gathering, the more examples of Christ-like Servant Leadership become increasingly apparent. In talking with or hearing from those on various planning teams, it is clear that practices such as Praying Unceasingly, Serving Others, Identifying Common Vision, Promoting Communication, and Nurturing Collaboration are at the core of their work.
Concepts familiar to the KINDLE Servant Leader have been woven throughout sessions and interactive experiences by presenters. Adult leaders continue to foster and multiply Christ-like Servant Leaders among their youth, using the experience of the Gathering as a catalyst for conversation and growth.
Held July 11-15, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Gathering brought together more than 22,000 students, leaders, planners, and volunteers who were focused on the theme: Real. Present. God., rooted in Psalm 46.
Reflecting on the experience as an adult leader through the lens of KINDLE Strands and Practices, Director of Christian Education (DCE) Paul White (2011 Classic KINDLE Associate) noted “Participating in the National Youth Gathering builds up leaders in every possible way. The sessions, mass events, and Bible study times provide great opportunities to grow faith in all participants. The delegation of responsibilities and sheer number of leadership hours help build up the skills of individuals. The prerequisite of unity and participating in the week together help build up your group and makes them work together towards a common goal for the whole week. And as for health, let’s just say that my watch counted an all time high score as far as steps in a week.”
DCE Tia Pugh (2011 Classic KINDLE Associate) shared that her experience as a presenter was an opportunity to help participants recognize and realize God’s call in their life as His baptized and beloved child. Leading one session for adult leaders, “Passing on Faith that Dwells”, which focused on intentionally connecting parents and students in youth ministry, Pugh emphasized recognizing the call of parents in their child’s faith development and encouraging partnership thinking when it comes to church and home.
In another session, Pugh encouraged youth in the joy of “being connected to [their] own story and giving them eyes to see how God is working, pointing them to Jesus,” and how the “miraculous act” of their baptism impacts their “ordinary” life. In doing so, the focus “jumps outward to witness willingly,” as students recognize “I have this story that God has given me to share.”
Summarizing the Gathering experience and how the faith of students was cultivated through it, White noted “What a joy it was each evening to ask around dinner about what they learned and hear the energy with which summaries and applications were shared.”